Over time, damage to the lenses of our eyes can lead to cataracts – impaired vision that manifests as blurred images, dulled or yellowed images, or visual distortions. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataracts affect over 24 million Americans over the age of 40, and about half of all individuals age 75 and over.
One of the reasons why cataracts develop is that our eyes suffer from a lot of oxidative damage. Bright ultra-violet (UV) rays from sunlight, dust, chemicals, screen time, and diabetes can all affect the health and clarity of our vision. Scientists believe that specific antioxidant ingredients can help, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and grape seed extract.
Grape seed extract is often thought of as a cardiovascular-related nutrient, but the abilities of this botanical go far beyond that. Grape seed extracts are on the front line of cancer research, as well as applications for blood pressure, cholesterol balance, and protection against cataracts.
This scientific study found that grape seed extract activated antioxidant protectors that swoop in to stop oxidative damage to the cells of the lens. Grape seed extract compounds, known as proanthocyanidins or oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), also have the ability to inhibit, or “downregulate” processes in the body that would also lead to lens damage.
There are many grape seed extracts available, but one of the ways to ensure that grape seed extract works best is by finding one that is standardized to be tannin-free. That’s because not all OPCs are absorbable by the body – and tannins, as OPCs, are some of them. By contrast, low-molecular weight OPCs are small and easily absorbed to help protect the delicate and precious structures of your eyes.
Jia Z, Song Z, Zhao Y, Wang X, Liu P. Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract protects human lens epithelial cells from oxidative stress via reducing NF-кB and MAPK protein expression. Mol Vis. 2011;17:210‐217.
Purpose: Oxidative damage induced by H₂O₂ treatment can irreversibly damage the lens epithelium, resulting in cell death and cataract. Grape seed extract (GSE) is a widely consumed dietary supplement that has the capability to scavenge oxidants and free radicals. GSE contain 70%-95% standardized proanthocyanidins. The study described herein investigated the protective effect of Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) on H₂O₂-induced oxidative stress in human lens epithelial B-3 (HLEB-3) cells and the possible molecular mechanism involved.
Methods: HLE-B3 cells exposed to different doses of H₂O₂ were cultured with various concentrations of GSPE and subsequently monitored for cell viability by the 4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The apoptosis rate and ROS generation were detected by flow cytometric analysis. Expression of NF-кB/P65 and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) proteins were measured by western blot.
Results: GSPE clearly reduced H₂O₂ induced cell apoptosis and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and protected HLEB-3 cells from H₂O₂ induced oxidative damage. GSPE depressed H₂O₂-induced activation and translocation of NF-кB/p65. GSPE also depressed H₂O₂-induced phosphorylation of the p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) proteins of the MAPK family at various time points studied.
Conclusions: GSPE could be useful in attenuation of H₂O₂-induced oxidative stress and the activation of NF-кB and MAPK signaling in HLE-B3 cells, which suggests that GSPE has a potential protective effect against cataractogenesis.